Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else; however, I will read the writing to the king and reveal the interpretation to him. O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and greatness and glory and majesty; and because of the greatness that He gave him, all the peoples, nations, and speakers of every language trembled and feared him. Whomever he wished he killed, and whomever he wished he kept alive; whomever he wished he promoted and whomever he wished he humbled. But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit became so proud that he behaved arrogantly, he was deposed from his royal throne and his glory was taken away from him. He was also driven from mankind, and his mind was made like that of an animal, and his dwelling place was with the wild donkeys. He was given grass to eat like cattle, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven until he came to know [without any doubt] that the Most High God rules over the kingdom of mankind and He appoints it to whomever He wills. And you, his [a]son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart (mind), even though you knew all this. And you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven, and the vessels of His house have been brought before you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them; and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or understand. But the God who holds in His hand your breath of life and your ways you have not honored and glorified [but have dishonored and defied]. Then the hand was sent from the presence [of the Most High God], and this inscription was written:
“This is the [b]inscription that was written, ‘mene, mene, tekel, upharsin [numbered, numbered, weighed, and divided].’ This is the interpretation of the message: ‘mene’—God has numbered the days of your kingdom and put an end to it; ‘tekel’—you have been weighed on the scales [of righteousness] and found deficient; ‘[c]peres’—[d]your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and [e]Persians.”
Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple and a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation concerning him was issued [declaring] that he now had authority as the third ruler in the kingdom.
- Daniel 5:22 The Aramaic (see note 2:4) word may also mean “grandson” or “descendant.”
- Daniel 5:25 These words are ordinary Aramaic from that time, so some commentators have speculated that the wise men recognized them but just could not put them into orderly sentences. Yet here Daniel seems to clearly “read” the words simply by pronouncing them in Aramaic (cf note v 8). His interpretation (vv 26-28) goes far beyond what the simple words mean by themselves.
- Daniel 5:28 The singular of upharsin (see v 25).
- Daniel 5:28 Foretold in Is 21:2, 5, 9.
- Daniel 5:28 Aram Paras.
- Daniel 5:30 The 16th of Tishri (October 12, 539 b.c).
- Daniel 5:30 The Persian army had been outside the walls of Babylon for some time, but waited until this time of national feasting before invading.
- Daniel 5:31 Some scholars believe “Darius” may be a title rather than a proper name and in this context refers either to Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, who conquered Babylon or (more likely) to Gubaru, Cyrus’ commander who led the nighttime attack on the city and was appointed governor of the Babylonian territories.
Daniel Serves Darius
It seemed good to Darius [who became king after Belshazzar] to appoint over the kingdom 120 [a]satraps who would be in charge throughout the kingdom, and over them three chief commissioners (of whom Daniel was one), that these satraps might be accountable to them, so that the king would have no loss [from disloyalty or mismanagement]. Then this Daniel, because of the extraordinary spirit within him, began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and the satraps, and the king planned to appoint him over the entire realm. Then the [other two] commissioners and the satraps began trying to find a reason to bring a complaint against Daniel concerning the [administration of the] kingdom; but they could find no reason for an accusation or evidence of corruption, because he was faithful [a man of high moral character and personal integrity], and no negligence or corruption [of any kind] was found in him. Then these men said, “We will not find any basis for an accusation against this Daniel unless we find something against him in connection with the law of his God.”
Then these commissioners and satraps agreed to approach the king and said to him, “King Darius, live forever! All the commissioners of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors have consulted and agreed together that the king should establish a royal statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who petitions (prays to) any god or man besides you, O king, during the next thirty days, shall be thrown into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which [insures that it] may not be altered or revoked.” So King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction.
Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he went into his house (now in his roof chamber his windows were open toward Jerusalem); he continued to get down on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously. Then, by agreement, these men came [together] and found Daniel praying and making requests before his God. Then they approached and spoke before the king regarding his injunction, “Have you not signed an injunction that anyone who petitions (prays to) any god or man except you, O king, within the designated thirty days, is to be thrown into the den of lions?” The king answered, “The statement is true, in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be altered or revoked.” Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, does not pay any attention to you, O king, or to the injunction which you have signed, but keeps praying [to his God] three times a day.”
Then, as soon as the king heard these words, he was deeply distressed [over what he had done] and set his mind on rescuing Daniel; and he struggled until the sun went down [trying to work out a way] to save him. Then, by agreement, these same men came to the king and said, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or statute which the king establishes may be altered or revoked.”
Daniel in the Den of Lions
Then the king gave a command, and Daniel was brought and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you constantly serve, rescue you Himself!” A stone was brought and laid over the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing would be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting; and no music or entertainment was brought before him, and he remained unable to sleep.
Then the king arose at dawn, at the break of day, and hurried to the den of lions. When he had come near the den, he called out to Daniel with a troubled voice. The king said to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Then Daniel spoke to the king, “O king, live forever! My God has sent His angel and has shut the mouths of the lions so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also before you, O king, I have committed no crime.” Then the king was greatly pleased and ordered that Daniel be taken out of the den. So Daniel was taken out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in and relied on and trusted in his God. The king then gave a command, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and thrown into the den of lions, they, their children and their wives; and before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.
Then Darius the king wrote to all the peoples, nations, and speakers of every language who were living in all the land: “May peace abound to you! I issue a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to [reverently] fear and tremble before the God of Daniel,
For He is the living God, enduring and steadfast forever,
And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed,
And His dominion will be forever.
“He rescues and saves and performs signs and wonders
In heaven and on earth—
He who has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”
So this [man] Daniel prospered and enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
- Daniel 6:1 See note 3:2.